By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
NAUGATUCK — A couple of years after the borough took down the skatepark at Linden Park, an effort continues to raise money for a new one.
The borough removed the skatepark, which was outdated and had metal ramps, on the recommendation of its insurance company, Public Works Director James Stewart said. At the time, he said, the skatepark was falling apart and missing pieces.
Officials are aiming to raise $100,000 for a new, modern skatepark with concrete ramps, pipes and equipment.
The fundraising effort started before the skatepark came down. Recreation Director Kim Eyre said the borough has raised $13,761 through at least 20 fundraisers since 2014.
COVID-19 has put a hold on the fundraisers. The department postponed a fundraiser scheduled for this month at the Loaded Goat on Church Street to the spring due to coronavirus concerns, Eyre said.
“We have not had a fundraiser for the skatepark since before COVID-19,” Eyre said.
Parks Commission Chairman Linda “Gigi” Ramos, who has been spearheading the fundraising effort, said skateboarders need a secure spot to have fun.
“I just feel it’s important for those kids who enjoy skateboarding to have a safe place. A place that has been updated,” Ramos said. “Being able to skateboard I don’t want to see kids at Town Hall, the gazebo or on the street.”
Officials plan to apply for a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation for the skatepark. Eyre said the department is going to put off applying until next year. She said raising more will improve the chance of getting a grant.
There have been discussions about the borough funding some of the money through the budget, but there aren’t any concrete plans, said Emily Osterberg, secretary for the Recreation Department.
The skatepark was built in 2002 with a $70,000 state grant as part of a $1 million project to upgrade Linden Park. Now, the area where the skatepark was is fenced in and was most recently used by construction crews to stage equipment during a project to reconstruct North Main Street.
Last week, the area sat empty behind a chained-link fence.
Although COVID-19 has put a hold on fundraisers, people can still donate by sending cash or checks to the Parks and Recreation Department at 607 Rubber Ave. Checks should have “skatepark” in the memo line.
Ramos said having a skatepark will give skateboarders a place of their own to enjoy.
“I want to teach them responsibility and the right place to go to by having their own environment,” Ramos said. “They can feel comfortable and enjoy knowing that’s where they belong and not getting in trouble.”